Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Twin Towns - Cardiff and Miami (yes, really)

I am not good living out of a suitcase. My suitcase is bigger than I am. In fact, I am thinking of dispensing with my clothes and living in said suitcase to save on rent.
I have been desperate to get a place back in LA, not only because of the suitcase issue but because I just love the city. The fact that everywhere you go, people are talking about TV and film; the great service in almost every restaurant and bar; the terrific bus service (people still laugh at me, but it’s mega cheap and regular, and the drivers are a darn sight nicer than the taxi drivers - and, more to the point, know where they are going); the weather – it’s my kind of town (as the song goes).
But it’s impossible to find an apartment that is exactly right. I took one of my landlords (who charged me a fortune for a place that was mediocre, at best) to court last year (and won), so nice as anyone seems at the outset, it can still turn sour. In my experience, it is better to go with a company, even if you have to pay a little above the odds and compromise a little on space. But at least, unlike private landlords, a company is professional and doesn’t try to do you over when you leave.
So while I’ve been looking, it’s been suitcase time, and I also returned to Miami for Britweek Visits Miami. The annual LA Britweek event (now two weeks), set up by UK TV producer Nigel Lythgoe and ex-diplomat Bob Peirce and his wife Sharron, has been running for seven years. This was its first showing out of California and a jolly time was had by all.
There are apparently plans afoot to twin Miami with my local home city of Cardiff in South Wales. Miami is fairly hot for most of the year; Cardiff is the second wettest city in the UK. We have the M4 and the Severn Bridge that carries people with ease from England into Wales; Miami is a congestion of taxis in a tortoise marathon, and if you want to get anywhere, you should have set out yesterday.
 Cardiff has the Millennium Stadium and rugby; Miami, Marlins Park and baseball (and if you want to get there in a hurry, you should have set off last week). Cardiff has the River Taff on its doorstep; Miami has the Atlantic Ocean. 

You can’t get a drink in Miami after 2am (and most places, apart from nighclubs, are wiping down tables before midnight; Cardiff was recently names the drinking capital of Europe (as the packed police cells and A & E on a Saturday night bear witness).
Yes, it’s easy to see why, given how much the two cities have in common, they should be paired.
I actually hope it comes off. Justin Jones, who with his wife Taima pulled off Britweek in Miami, is Welsh. Many local businesses participated in particular events, while some big businesses from other parts of the US sponsored others. And I even got to have my picture taken with Lennox Lewis, who was a guest speaker at the opening gala. He’s a big boy.
My trip back to LA was not without incident. Having been somehow downgraded on American Airlines, I found myself hemmed in next to an enormous woman from Virginia who might even have been Virginia, such was her bulk. Her knitting needles were already clacking away at a jumper clearly intended for her 60 stone niece, and the eight gallon carton of Pepsi was sitting precariously on the tiny table between us. Her leg, which was about the size of Gibralter, was up on the dashboard in front of us.
It was all too much. Too big. Too much. Too in my face. Too overwhelming for my five foot stature. And I had a massive claustrophic panic attack and almost passed out. The plane was full, so moving to the better seat where I belonged was not an option. Getting off appeared to be the only one. Ground staff were called, but I was told I would have to be on stand-by on any other flight (which would have been a whole lot of other stress). The captain came to see me and asked if I was afraid of flying. No. I do it all the time. Was I on any meds? No. Are you sure you’re not on any meds? NO!
He explained that he didn’t want to have to land somewhere mid-flight to get me off, and I told him that this was precisely why I was bringing it up before the doors closed.
Anyway, Virginia and her continent of sweater kindly moved to the window seat and I spent a calm flight back to LA in her aisle seat, from where I watched All About Eve and Hitchcock, starring Anthony Hopkins in the lead.
I love the way his accent keeps slipping into his native Welsh – I will never be able to think of Psy-kaw in quite the same way again. 

Come the great twinning programme with Cardiff, they’ll all be speaking like that in Miami by Christmas.

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